100 books like The Cooking Gene

By Michael W. Twitty,

Here are 100 books that The Cooking Gene fans have personally recommended if you like The Cooking Gene. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Circe

Judith Lindbergh Author Of Akmaral

From my list on historical fiction with eponymous titles.

Why am I passionate about this?

When we authors name our characters, we gift them with meaning—a single word that somehow encompasses everything they will experience on the page. The name of my heroine, Akmaral, hails from Kazakhstan and means “white deer.” It resounds with the sound of hooves on the ancient Central Asian steppes and the deep connection to the natural world of the nomadic people who once lived there. Names bear unconscious expectations—hopes for strength and wisdom, dreams of triumph, beauty, and love. I hope that someday, hearing “Akmaral” will bring to mind vast, windswept steppes and a strong woman on horseback, head held high, contemplating her journey from warrior to leader.

Judith's book list on historical fiction with eponymous titles

Judith Lindbergh Why did Judith love this book?

It doesn’t hurt to be a goddess—even a minor goddess—that is, unless you are condemned to live alone on an enchanted island for eternity. I love the magic and herbology woven into Circe's character. (I love anything that has to do with harnessing nature’s powerful, innate wisdom.)

Circe’s suffering at the hands of gods and men is as intense as if she were a human woman. Yet she is immortal. Is there no end to it? Thankfully, even a goddess can grow. 

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked Circe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international Number One bestseller from the author of The Song of Achilles, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child - not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens…


Book cover of James Baldwin: Collected Essays

Kara Cooney Author Of When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

From my list on power and the powerless.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a specialist of ancient Egyptian social history, who against the better judgment of (practically all) her colleagues uses the ancient past to make the present understandable. If we don’t fetishize the ancient Egyptians as separate and magical, they have something to teach us, whispering to us from the past through papyri, temples, and archaeological sites. After all, Egyptian history is 3000 years plus in its time span, an astounding data set of a people using same approximate language, government system, religion, and culture. Some of us look hungrily to replicate that kind of lasting and divine power. I am obsessed with power—how it works, why we are helpless to it, and who gets exploited by it. The ancient Egyptian kings effectively packaged their power not only as necessary, but as moral and good, ancient marketing that continues to work on our minds.

Kara's book list on power and the powerless

Kara Cooney Why did Kara love this book?

I am recommending this book because one can’t understand power without being beholden to it systemically and repeatedly, all the while dissecting power’s discontents. Baldwin’s words may seem to strike only to America’s core, but every marginalized person will find truth in them. As an Egyptologist, I rely on Baldwin to tell me what oppressed people in an authoritarian regime thought but could not commit to paper.

By James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison

Why should I read it?

1 author picked James Baldwin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James Baldwin was a uniquely prophetic voice in American letters. His brilliant and provocative essays made him the literary voice of the Civil Rights Era, and they continue to speak with powerful urgency to us today, whether in the swirling debate over the Black Lives Matter movement or in the words of Raoul Peck's documentary "I Am Not Your Negro." Edited by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the Library of America's Collected Essays is the most comprehensive gathering of Baldwin's nonfiction ever published.

With burning passion and jabbing, epigrammatic wit, Baldwin fearlessly articulated issues of race and democracy and American identity…


Book cover of The Matter of History

Kara Cooney Author Of When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

From my list on power and the powerless.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a specialist of ancient Egyptian social history, who against the better judgment of (practically all) her colleagues uses the ancient past to make the present understandable. If we don’t fetishize the ancient Egyptians as separate and magical, they have something to teach us, whispering to us from the past through papyri, temples, and archaeological sites. After all, Egyptian history is 3000 years plus in its time span, an astounding data set of a people using same approximate language, government system, religion, and culture. Some of us look hungrily to replicate that kind of lasting and divine power. I am obsessed with power—how it works, why we are helpless to it, and who gets exploited by it. The ancient Egyptian kings effectively packaged their power not only as necessary, but as moral and good, ancient marketing that continues to work on our minds.

Kara's book list on power and the powerless

Kara Cooney Why did Kara love this book?

I am recommending this volume because it shocked me with its ability to nestle humans into the world as an integral part of the natural world, not separate from it, not rulers over it, but clever animals that need the Earth more than the Earth needs us. It helps me to undercut the manufactured power of the divinely ordained rulers from ancient Egypt.

By Timothy J. Lecain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Matter of History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New insights into the microbiome, epigenetics, and cognition are radically challenging our very idea of what it means to be 'human', while an explosion of neo-materialist thinking in the humanities has fostered a renewed appreciation of the formative powers of a dynamic material environment. The Matter of History brings these scientific and humanistic ideas together to develop a bold, new post-anthropocentric understanding of the past, one that reveals how powerful organisms and things help to create humans in all their dimensions, biological, social, and cultural. Timothy J. LeCain combines cutting-edge theory and detailed empirical analysis to explain the extraordinary late-nineteenth…


Book cover of Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

Marco te Brömmelstroet Author Of Movement: how to take back our streets and transform our lives

From my list on how your language shapes the way you think (and act).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor in Urban Mobility Futures and, as such, am fascinated by how we think about our mobility present and past and how this limits us in imagining different futures. The problems in our mobility system are so urgent and overwhelming that I like to actively search for alternative ways of seeing and acting and teach others to do the same. Personally, I love to experience the incredible freedom of mind that I find in doing this. Also, see the Shepherd list of recommendations by my co-author, Thalia Verkade.

Marco's book list on how your language shapes the way you think (and act)

Marco te Brömmelstroet Why did Marco love this book?

Why have so many schemes to improve the human condition not worked or even backfired? In this brilliant work, I learned how we need to simplify the world if we want to govern it.

In any domain for which we aim to develop policies, we are forced to define relevant indicators and create a carbon copy of reality full of arbitrary choices. I loved how Scott makes this visible with examples from forests to cities. And how these choices lead to a variety of unexpected consequences that often render interventions ineffective.

The book makes you see that the problem is not that the chosen simplifications are wrong, but that ANY simplification is wrong. The only meaningful forward is a return to embracing the full complexity of the world around us.

By James C. Scott,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Seeing Like a State as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the most profound and illuminating studies of this century to have been published in recent decades."-John Gray, New York Times Book Review

"A powerful, and in many insightful, explanation as to why grandiose programs of social reform, not to mention revolution, so often end in tragedy. . . . An important critique of visionary state planning."-Robert Heilbroner, Lingua Franca

Hailed as "a magisterial critique of top-down social planning" by the New York Times, this essential work analyzes disasters from Russia to Tanzania to uncover why states so often fail-sometimes catastrophically-in grand efforts to engineer their society or their…


Book cover of Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Brianne Moore Author Of All Stirred Up

From my list on mouthwatering reads for foodies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of chefs and restaurant owners, so it’s probably no surprise that food plays a major role in my debut novel, All Stirred Up. (The two main characters are, in fact, chefs and restaurant owners. You write what you know!) Cooking plays a major part in my life as well—I’m always making something for family and loved ones. It’s probably no surprise that I love a good food book as well, whether it be fiction, memoir, or history. On my list are just five of my favourites.

Brianne's book list on mouthwatering reads for foodies

Brianne Moore Why did Brianne love this book?

Gabrielle Hamilton isn’t just a ‘reluctant chef’ (in her own words), she’s also an absolutely exquisite writer (her MFA really paid off!). Her memoir traces her life and love of food from her New Jersey childhood, through her many professional ups and downs and international travels (I especially love the parts where she’s staying at her Italian mother-in-law’s home, describing the incredible produce she was able to get. Oh, the tomatoes!) Did I extra love this because she grew up in the same small town I was born in? Maybe, but it’s a wonderful book no matter where you’re from.

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blood, Bones & Butter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Magnificent' Anthony Bourdain

A sharply crafted and unflinchingly honest memoir. This is a rollicking, passionate story of food, purpose and family.

Blood, Bones & Butter follows the chef Gabrielle Hamilton's extraordinary journey through the places she has inhabited over the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; and the kitchen of her beloved Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton's idyllic past and her…


Book cover of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kayla Anderson Author Of Moon Northern California Road Trip: Drives along the Coast, Redwoods, and Mountains with the Best Stops along the Way

From my list on embarking on epic adventures from your armchair.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in Northern California, right on the banks of the Sacramento River. While I didn’t realize it growing up, it was an epicenter for outdoor adventures. Along with skiing, snowboarding, hiking, wakeboarding, and camping, I always read a lot. My dad was worried that I would have no sense of direction because I was always in the back of our van or RV reading a book. That led to writing…and I had my first article published in a wakeboarding magazine when I was 15 years old. Traveling always took a backburner to reading, but now it’s front and center of my writing. 

Kayla's book list on embarking on epic adventures from your armchair

Kayla Anderson Why did Kayla love this book?

Anyone who has ever worked in the food or hospitality industry—as a cook, a waitress, a hostess, a barista, or otherwisecan identify with this book.

The restaurant business is a different beast, and Anthony Bourdain took a huge risk in writing this and burning bridges with his bosses and coworkers. But in doing so, he unlocked the universal hidden language that food and hospitality workers share.

As a former hostess/waitress myself who spent most of her college years with a part-time job at IHOP and the Golden Waffle, I could relate to a lot of what Bourdain experienced working in NYC, especially with minority groups and how they were treated during that time. He was a huge inspiration to a lot of people, including me. 

By Anthony Bourdain,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Kitchen Confidential as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC BESTSELLER: 'The greatest book about food ever written' 'A compelling book with its intriguing mix of clever writing and kitchen patois ... more horrifically gripping than a Stephen King novel' Sunday Times 'Extraordinary ... written with a clarity and a clear-eyed wit to put the professional food-writing fraternity to shame' Observer _____________________________ After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain decided to tell all - and he meant all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown;…


Book cover of The Gastronomical Me

Gregory Emilio Author Of Kitchen Apocrypha: Poems

From my list on books for gourmands with literary appetites.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twin passions in life have always been food and writing. While I chose poetry and creative writing as my primary fields of expertise, my ten-plus years of working in restaurants are just as important to who I am. I’m hungry for food writing that takes a more literary or creative approach. Cooking is a highly creative and meaningful act, and I love to see writing that aspires to do for the reader what the dedicated cook does for the eater: to nourish not only the body but the more metaphysical elements of our being, which is to say, our hearts, and maybe even our souls.  

Gregory's book list on books for gourmands with literary appetites

Gregory Emilio Why did Gregory love this book?

This book was my first love in the world of food writing, and it’s a romance that still continues to nourish and ravish many years later.

Simply put, M.F.K. Fisher’s seminal memoir about living, eating, and cooking in 1930s France is one of the most eloquent and moving testaments to the radical power of gastronomy to change and deepen our lives. By sharing her own culinary revelations and gastronomical epiphanies, Fisher helped me to reflect on my own ah-ha food moments and to be hungry for more of them.

The book shows us how food connects us, cuts across time and cultures, and makes us fall in love with our own lives.

By M.F.K. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Gastronomical Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1929, a newly married M.F.K. Fisher said goodbye to a milquetoast American culinary upbringing and sailed with her husband to Dijon, where she tasted real French cooking for the first time. The Gastronomical Me is a chronicle of her passionate embrace of a whole new way of eating, drinking, and celebrating the senses. As she recounts memorable meals shared with an assortment of eccentric and fascinating characters, set against a backdrop of mounting pre-war tensions, we witness the formation not only of her taste but of her character and her prodigious talent.


Book cover of Legends & Lattes

Paige E. Ewing Author Of Precise Oaths

From my list on sci-fi that blow raspberries at hero stereotypes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a woman in a technology field dominated by men, a person with both mental and physical problems, and I’ve studied a dozen different martial arts. I’m a mean shot with a bow and love to hurl axes and spears. None of these things are contradictory. They’re just different aspects of me. Real people don’t fit in boxes and neither should good characters. My world is filled with my Hispanic grandkids, my bi daughter, my gay foster brother, my friends and family and people I love that don’t fit the Captain Awesome stereotype. Remember that we, too, can be heroes.

Paige's book list on sci-fi that blow raspberries at hero stereotypes

Paige E. Ewing Why did Paige love this book?

The heroine in Legend & Lattes is a big orc lady, nothing like little Bilbo, but she’s done with violence.

She wants to build a settled business selling drinks and pastries. The giant heroine and the succubus behind the counter get constantly misjudged because of their appearances. As a woman carving her path in the tech industry, I know how that feels.

This book also taught me, right along with the heroine, that solving problems without violence can be even more heroic. A good story doesn’t require fight scenes. The wins were all kinds of satisfying, from the successful business to the happy gay romance.

Cozy fantasy is a sub-genre I love now. Characters and their relationships are the point, not just the hands to wield the magic swords.

By Travis Baldree,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Legends & Lattes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

High fantasy, low stakes - with a double-shot of coffee.

After decades of adventuring, Viv the orc barbarian is finally hanging up her sword for good. Now she sets her sights on a new dream - for she plans to open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. Even though no one there knows what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the past behind her, she can't go it alone. And help might arrive from unexpected quarters. Yet old rivals and new stand in the way of success. And Thune's shady underbelly could make it all…


Book cover of Taste: My Life Through Food

Arlene S. Bice Author Of Running with the Horses: A Memoir of Travel, Racetracks, & Foods

From my list on memoirs and personal stories that capture something special.

Why am I passionate about this?

I firmly believe we each have a unique story to tell, to record in order to help others and to record a history. I love the ordinary person who lives an extraordinary life. So many people don’t realize how wonderful they are. It is also cathartic to write your story, in doing so you forgive others as you forgive yourself for decisions poorly made.

Arlene's book list on memoirs and personal stories that capture something special

Arlene S. Bice Why did Arlene love this book?

Stanley Tucci makes this book personal. He connects to any reader that loves the world of cooking and entertaining friends at his table and who loves to travel, too. He takes the reader into his personal life, not just memories of his good times, but his errors, too. He’s honest. He’s intriguing, letting you know who he truly is. He loves his life, all of it, and he passes that love onto you.

By Stanley Tucci,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Taste as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NO.1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

A Guardian book of the year
A Times book of the year
A Daily Mail book of the year

From award-winning actor and food obsessive Stanley Tucci comes an intimate and charming memoir of life in and out of the kitchen. For Stanley and foodie fans, this is the perfect, irresistible gift.

'It's impossible to read this without becoming ravenous!' -- Nigella Lawson

'It is as infectious as it is delicious, as funny as it is insightful. The only reason to put this book down, is to go cook and eat from it' -- Heston…


Book cover of What Did You Eat Yesterday? 1

Brianne Moore Author Of All Stirred Up

From my list on mouthwatering reads for foodies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of chefs and restaurant owners, so it’s probably no surprise that food plays a major role in my debut novel, All Stirred Up. (The two main characters are, in fact, chefs and restaurant owners. You write what you know!) Cooking plays a major part in my life as well—I’m always making something for family and loved ones. It’s probably no surprise that I love a good food book as well, whether it be fiction, memoir, or history. On my list are just five of my favourites.

Brianne's book list on mouthwatering reads for foodies

Brianne Moore Why did Brianne love this book?

I like to branch out into different genres, and I’ve recently started getting into Manga. This is a really wonderful series about a gay couple—one of whom loves to try out new dishes the other is always eager to try—whose relationship deepens over the meals they enjoy together. It’s something that really touched a chord in me, as someone who also uses food as a love language.

By Fumi Yoshinaga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Did You Eat Yesterday? 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From award-winning author Fumi Yoshinaga comes a casual romance between two middle-aged men and the many meals they share together.

A hard-working middle-aged gay couple in Tokyo come to enjoy the finer moments of life through food. After long days at work, either in the law firm or the hair salon, Shiro and Kenji will always have down time together by the dinner table, where they can discuss their troubles, hash out their feelings and enjoy delicately prepared home cooked meals!


5 book lists we think you will like!

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